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Improve oral health through diet

Updated: Mar 15, 2022 Print
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Oral health
Oral health affects our ability to eat, speak, smile, and show emotions. Oral health can also cause social difficulties and even mental disorders.
Oral diseases, which include oropharyngeal cancer, oral ulcer, congenital defects (cleft lip and palate, periodontal diseases), dental caries, and tooth loss, cause pain and disabilities for a huge number of people.

Keep a healthy and balanced diet
Oral diseases and many chronic diseases have common risk factors.

Excessive intake of foods with high sugar, high fat, high salt and low fiber will cause both coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and dental diseases such as caries and periodontal issues.

Developing a healthy diet can prevent both systemic and oral diseases.

Diversity is the foundation of a balanced diet. We are suggested to eat more grains, vegetables and fruits. These foods, rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, are conducive to the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, and also good for the development of teeth and prevention of dental diseases.

Identify sugars and stay away from added ones
Sugars include non-free sugar and free sugar.

Non-free sugar is less harmful to the body. It refers to sugar naturally contained in food, for example, fructose in fresh fruits, sugar in vegetables, lactose in milk and starch in cereals and potatoes.

Free sugar is harmful to the body. It is often divided into two kinds. One is the sugar in concentrated fruit juice and honey. As the sugar in fruits is wrapped by a layer of plant cell wall, and the digestion process is slower, eating fresh fruits hardly causes dental caries, but when fruits become free sugar after being made into fruit juice, the cariogenic property will increase. Another kind of free sugar refers to the sucrose, glucose, fructose and syrup added to food in food processing and production, also known as added sugar.

Added sugar not only exists in sweet snacks such as beverages, candies, cakes, biscuits, desserts, honey and syrup, but also may be hidden in unsweetened processed foods, such as ketchup, yogurt, coffee, puffed food, sesame paste, walnut powder, and plums.

It is worth noting that many baby foods are highly processed products with high amounts of added sugar. Therefore, we should be alert that we may be providing added sugar to our children unknowingly.

Drink fewer carbonated drinks to avoid tooth damage
The critical pH value of tooth enamel demineralization is 5.5. Carbonated beverages and acidic foods have low pH value and high sugar content, which can reduce the oral pH value to below the critical pH value of tooth enamel demineralization, causing direct corrosion and damage to the tooth surface and resulting in acidosis. In addition, these foods can also produce acidic substances through microbial fermentation of sugar, leading to the dissolution of minerals in tooth enamel and causing dental caries.

Excessive intake of sugary drinks and carbonated drinks before going to bed can increase the risk of acid etching in children and adolescents. We are suggested to reduce the intake of carbonated beverages to avoid harm to teeth, and drink more water.

Consume more fruits and vegetables, less tobacco and alcohol and fewer betel nuts
Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of dietary fiber which is a very important cellulose in the human body. Regular consumption of fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy products and whole grains that are rich in calcium and vitamin C can increase chewing activities, reduce plaque retention, promote periodontal health, and prevent oral diseases.

Smoking is the main risk factor for oral cancer. More than 90% of patients with oral cancer are smokers. Tobacco and smoke contain a variety of harmful substances, which can lead to oral cancer.

Alcohol consumption mainly causes tongue cancer and carcinoma of the floor of the mouth. Because drinking alcohol results in repeated contact with the mucosa of the tongue and the bottom of the mouth, it causes mucosal burns and increases the absorption of carcinogens.

Betel nut has been listed as a Class-A carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Chewing betel nut is a major risk factor for oral cancer.

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